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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 9;279(15):14477-80. Epub 2004 Jan 13.

Myocyte enhancer factor 2 mediates calcium-dependent transcription of the interleukin-2 gene in T lymphocytes: a calcium signaling module that is distinct from but collaborates with the nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT).

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Science and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


The second messenger calcium plays an essential role in the T cell receptor-mediated signal transduction pathways leading to transcription of the interleukin-2 gene. A key mechanism of calcium signaling has been shown to be mediated by calcineurin and NFAT. We report herein that the transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor (MEF)-2 is another calcium signal transducer involved in the regulation of the interleukin (IL)-2 promoter. A MEF2-binding site was identified in proximity to the TATA box of the IL-2 promoter. This site was shown to be bound by MEF2 in both resting and activated T cells. Overexpression of MEF2 enhanced, while overexpression of a dominant negative form of MEF2 or the MEF2-specific transcriptional corepressors Cabin1 and histone deacetylase 4 inhibited, the T cell receptor-dependent activation of an IL-2 reporter gene. Down-regulation of MEF2 by RNA interference in primary human T cells led to the inhibition of endogenous IL-2 transcription. These results suggest that MEF2 is required for the transcriptional activation of IL-2 and likely other cytokine genes in response to calcium signaling and may serve as a novel target for development of immunosuppressants.

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